Tuesday, February 15, 2011

KVD on 309

This, from 111 Degrees West's (and Montana Sporting Journal, and MacKenzie River Pizza Co.) Will Jordan:

"I served a pizza to KVD this weekend, and had a chance to talk to him about 309. He said he's very confident that they can put a stop to it in the senate. And he said if it came down to it, he has no doubt that Schweitzer would veto it. If it were to pass, he said it's unlikely that it would make rivers private in and of itself - but it would set the stage for landowners to take the issue to court on a case by case (river by river) basis and make their argument for privatization of a particular waterway."

HB 309 would make waters with irrigation equipment on them gray areas in the eyes of the stream access law.

So, in my opinion, it just adds more gray to an already-gray law. Which is funny, since the bill is designed to "clarify". It'll make for more on-stream confrontations between land-owner and river-user, with no clear correct answer. Sheriffs will be called, and they will use their discretion on whether or not anglers can fish there.

Incidentally, Kendall Van Dyke is the man - visit his website here. I cannot vote for him, but I hope those who can, will continue to.


Ivan said...

Indeed KVD is the man. It is good to hear that it seems like this bill might be dying in either the senate or on the G.O.V.s desk. Great insight.

David Payne said...

Basically this bill is a sloppy attempt to right a perceived "wrong" handed down by the by the Montana Supreme Court. Oddly enough the bill if passed in it's current form could be equally bad for irrigators who believe in the bill's "clarity". The authors of the bill elected to re-define the meaning of a "ditch" using language that is hopelessly vague and which would be subject to a test that is extremely variable in my lay opinion. It's my belief the burden would be the irrigator to prove his "ditch" does comply. If it's truly a ditch that nobody but the irrigator gives a rat's ass about, that burden is easy. If it's another Mitchell Slough situation, good luck. The real danger with this bill is it would create a tremendous opportunity for abuse. Most mom and pop ranchers have neither the time nor money to get into a legal pissing match. A lot of wealthy out-of-state land owners who do have the time and money for a protracted legal battle would like nothing better than the prospect of privatizing a Montana trout stream. This bill, if pass into law will hand them that opportunity on a silver platter.